AMD's mainstream desktop products recently underwent a minor refresh with the release of the 785G chipset, otherwise formerly known by its RS880 codename. This immediately replaces the popular 780G chipset (codenamed RS780) that has been a force to be reckoned with in the integrated graphics processor (IGP) chipset space.
While the differential in the codename's number scheme seemed to suggest a big change, it was mostly a minor update. Both chipsets are still based on the 55nm silicon manufacturing process but the key areas of improvement on the newer AMD 785G chipset are its Radeon HD 4200 graphics engine in the Northbridge and support for ACC (advanced clock calibration) in the new SB710 Southbridge. This new Radeon HD 4200 graphics engine primarily brings with it DirectX 10.1 support and updated UVD 2.0 for more efficient processing of HD videos. The older AMD 780G chipset sports a Radeon HD 3200 graphics engine, DirectX 10 and first generation UVD. In actual practice, as shown in our roundup of three AMD 785G motherboards , there was little performance advantage to be gained over the original AMD 780G and it was more of feature updates to inch ahead of its competition.
Before the year-end holiday season comes around, AMD is determined to bring the AMD 785G chipset's goodness into its mainstream notebook space as well with improved power savings technology. With tamer processing specifications, it's likely that the beefier chipset would play a more pronounced role in bettering performance and efficiency in the notebook space. Codenamed RS880M, this chipset in combination of newer AMD notebook processors will form the basis of the new mainstream AMD Tigris platform.
Like in the desktop space, the Tigris will be Puma's direct successor. The Tigris finally uses the AMD Stars family of processors (45nm process technology) called Turion II and will be somewhat similar to the desktop based AMD Athlon II X2 series (codenamed Regor). With processors capped under the 35W TDP spec, processors range from the dual-core 2.6GHz AMD Turion II Ultra, to Turion II and even the single-core AMD Sempron processor. More CPU model details over here.
In other news, AMD is also finally ready to release their second revision of their ultrathin notebook platform codenamed Congo. Their first edition codenamed Yukon released earlier this year sported the older AMD M690G platform, a single-core AMD Neo processor and had only one major design win with HP's Pavilion dv2 notebook. From our discussion with AMD, most of the vendors found that the timeline between the first and second revisions of AMD's ultrathin notebook platform were quite close and they rather wait till the Congo arrived. As it stands now, AMD has 11 OEMs who've hopped on to this new platform and there already 24 design wins; sounds good for AMD.
So what is the Congo platform? It's basically a more power efficient M780G chipset coupled with more choices of single and dual-core processors with 18W TDP or less. Check out this page on AMD's site for the expected CPU configurations. As we've lamented in the past, this should have been AMD's star ultrathin notebook platform from the very beginning. Fortunately, it's finally just around the corner and you can likely expect them when Windows 7 launches next month.
Just to highlight why you should be looking forward to both the Tigris and Congo notebooks, for dollar to dollar spent on these AMD notebooks, you will almost certainly get a more powerful multimedia notebook than going with Intel's platform. Thanks to AMD's very capable integrated graphic engine in the chipset, this is a crucial tipping point of why an AMD based notebook is a more balanced platform. You don't need to have discrete graphics to be able to watch HD videos or indulge in light gaming. This means lower cost to the consumer and lower price points for the total platform. The only other area AMD has yet to prove itself is in its power efficiency department and we hope that both Tigris and Congo platforms will finally rival Intel's unmatched track record.
Also just in is AMD's new VISION branding that will attempt to classify AMD based systems according to their capabilities. The basic AMD Vision standard is more for simple productivity and internet usage needs while Vision Premium and Vision Ultimate ensure HD video playback and light modern gaming needs. The Ultimate edition requires achieving the following components: DirectX 10.1, recording live TV, immersive 3D gaming and heavy content creation. More details over here. Going by these abstract aspects, even Congo based notebooks are capable of being branded as Vision Ultimate systems. The previous AMD Game! branding hasn't really picked up steam and we highly doubt how AMD Vision can change this. In fact, we feel it's going to confuse consumers when you can't easily differentiate a low and high-end system nor by their capabilities.
Looks like AMD still has a thing or two to learn from Intel in the marketing department. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for AMD's new notebooks coming to you real soon next month. Before we end off, we would like to also update you on the kind of platforms and CPUs catered for the mainstream desktop systems and all-in-one units as seen below:-